Article - General

Excuses, excuses

By Danny, added on 05/04/2009

Excuses. We’ve all heard them; we’ve almost certainly all used them, well, I know I have. Excuses for not catching fish come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are even true. I seem to use them far too often; maybe that says something about my angling, or maybe it says something about my personality like, I don’t know, I’m a born liar perhaps.

Excuses seem to me to fall into one of four main categories: weather related, tackle related, bait related and miscellaneous. Then, of course, there are several sub-categories, for example, conditions of the chosen fishery that are linked to the weather.

Weather related excuses are numerous and probably - with the sub-category mentioned above - the most commonly used of all: the sun was too bright; it was too windy; there wasn’t enough wind; it was too hot; it was too cold; there’s been too much rain recently; we need a drop of rain.

The wind is an excuse which I have been able to utilise particularly well over the last year or so since starting to fly-fish; in fact it comes to my aid regularly. Assuring my girlfriend she need not buy anything for tea the morning before a trip to a local still-water I returned that evening fishless, and hungry, after a hapless day that produced nothing but oaths when, for the fiftieth time, my fly managed to wrap itself around the only bit of vegetation taller than six inches within a hundred yard radius. I was most insistent in my denial of all blame, and she seemed to understand when I explained that it had been a dead calm day: not a breath of wind to tickle the water into a ripple, and obviously the trout had been super-cautious of any disturbance to the lake’s mirror-like sheen. I think it began to wear a little thin the following time I visited the same still-water when I returned, again fishless, to inform her that it had been far too windy. Well, I am a beginner, and the wind was playing havoc with my casting. My third fishless return needed a slightly different slant though, and so I had to refer to the miscellaneous category when I told her, truthfully I might add, that I had caught the wrong type of fish. I had caught two fish, but they were both brown trout and I had had to put them back.

Bright sunshine - the curse of the angler? I don’t think so, in fact, I’ve had some of my best days fishing in these conditions. I love those warm summer days when there’s only a few friendly-looking cumulus clouds drifting lazily along in a gentle breeze, bumble bees are buzzing drowsily to and fro and I can sit in comfort on lake or river-bank at peace with myself and the world. As an excuse for not catching fish it’s one that actually makes sense however; fish don’t have eyelids so it follows that in bright sunshine they might not be as active, and they might also feel more vulnerable to predators in such conditions. I’m sure I’m not the only angler who has caught in bright sunshine, but I’m equally sure I’m not the only angler who, returning from a fishing trip bite-less and fishless, has complained bitterly about the fact that the sun shone all day.

I don’t like fishing in the rain, and rain in itself cannot be used effectively as an excuse; most people who aren’t anglers seem to labour under the misapprehension that fish bite better in the rain. I have no idea how the wrong end of the stick has been grabbed so often by so many, but I have heard it from countless non-fishers. Where rain comes into its own as an excuse is either if there’s been too much of it or not enough of it. This is a handy sub-category found under the general heading of weather, and it is used when the weather has affected the river or lake in one, or more, of several ways. Obviously, a prolonged lack of rain can lower water levels and oxygen levels thus causing fish to become lethargic and not as keen to feed. Also in low water conditions fish may have moved from their usual haunts where previously they have been caught regularly to, well, who knows where? When the river is in flood some fish, famously barbel, continue feeding, but it cannot be denied that a river in flood is not an easy prospect.

Other areas to be explored in this sub-category involve colour in the water: too much colour in the water following a lot of rain, or not enough colour in the water following not enough rain. Both can be super excuses on their day.

Choice of bait is one of those subjects that as anglers we can, and do, spend hours discussing, researching and arguing over. There are naturals, boilies, pellets, particles, and meats to name but a few. Boilies already come in a bewildering array of flavours, and most other baits can have flavour added. I don’t think I need to go into any more detail here; suffice to say if you can’t think of a bait-related excuse then I’m afraid you need more help than this article can offer.

I will just touch on the miscellaneous category here. Because of its very nature this category has an infinite number of excuses to be explored; all that’s required is imagination which in my experience most anglers have in abundance. To provide a brief example I remember fishing one June 16th with the most monumental hangover. We started fishing at six in the morning, but by eight it must have already been twenty-five degrees. I’d had about two hours sleep, I was dehydrated, I’d forgotten to bring anything to drink or eat and at about half-eight I demanded my mate’s car keys and went to sleep on the back seat until lunchtime. Consequently I caught nothing.

I am not even going to go into tackle-related excuses; I hope and think I’ve given you all enough ammunition so that, in future, you have no excuse for not having an excuse.


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